Was Kennedy Wrong?
The most quoted line from the JFK presidency was, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
On the surface that seems like a pretty good quote. But what does it mean?
I think the founders might take exception to what their original idea was intended to be and Kennedy’s assessment.
The founder’s thought that if a person had freedom they would reach for the stars. Today’s society wants the government to move the stars within easy reach.
What Your Country Can Do For You?
Well that’s pretty obvious going back to Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. There are entitlement programs as far as the eye can see.
If people are living in poverty today they simply haven’t explored all the options government will supply to them.
Government dependency is now expected by many of those who find themselves in the lower income levels.
Unfortunately the government makes it all too easy to get on the welfare rolls and even harder to get off.
There are few government-sponsored incentives to give up a check signed by Uncle Sam. In fact I’m hard pressed to name one.
Individuality is slowly killed off and a totally dependent robot society is born.
What You Can Do For Your Country?
Sounds a lot like what you can do for your master doesn’t it?
I know it’s probably meant, as some form of charity, but isn’t that merely a transfer of the country being the parent to the child being more respectful to the parent?
“Okay you don’t have to do chores anymore but we still expect you to be in by curfew.”
We might leave you to yourselves — but on a short leash.
Without our supervision you might try to manufacture a pill without a safety cap.
Some Final Thoughts
The fact that this quote is so memorable says a lot about our national thinking process.
We always seem to place government in a higher pecking order than the individual.
Yet it’s the individual, not the collective that has made America great.
Individuals pursuing their goals and dreams and dragging others to the top with them is what the founders had in mind.
Go as far as your strengths and abilities will take you.
As long as we continue to think of government as the plantation owner and the citizens it serves as dependent slaves then we’re no longer destined for greatness.
I think Kennedy should have said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for yourself and others without government?”
Feel free to quote me.